There seems to be a national holiday for just about everything – from the bizarre (World Toilet Day in November!) to the inspirational.
Surprisingly, the whole of the second week of February is Freelance Writers’ Appreciation Week, intended to draw attention to just how much content freelance writers are responsible for, and to give them a thank you.
What have you read today?
Whether it’s a newspaper, the strapline on the side of a delivery truck, or online with social media – even the description of an article for sale on Amazon – all of it has been served up to you by a freelance writer!
Whatever it was, it didn’t just get churned out by a writing machine with words in all the right places. A real-life human being had to gather information, shape it into something interesting and readable and present it nicely for you to enjoy reading.
It’s quite a skill. Even an experienced writer won’t publish their first draft, even with a deadline to meet. Pride in the job means there will usually have been many revisions. Drafts will have been left to “cool off” overnight and then scrapped and rewritten, either from a different standpoint, or because recent events have meant the whole story has to be updated.
It goes without saying that it all takes focus, a wide vocabulary and a good command of language. But that’s not all – you know yourself when a really great piece of writing has gripped your attention. There are a few unique qualities in a good freelance writer.
What does it take to be a good writer?
- curiosity and imagination
- to be a good listener
- keen research skills
- the ability to write without bias when necessary
- to write persuasively when appropriate
- an ability to put themselves in another’s shoes
This last point is important to master since very often, the freelancer is writing on behalf of another person or organisation, and therefore has to assume the “voice” of that person.
It’s quite difficult to achieve this as some may have been taught to write formally from early school days, or are so used to social media that the natural inclination is to use very informal language, so a very valuable skill is an ear for when “less is more”. Too much pretentious or flowery language, or on the other hand, a casual tone that becomes overly-familiar, is to be avoided as it detracts from the reader’s enjoyment. A wordsmith also has a talent for spotting and avoiding repetitive words and clichés, which can have the effect of devaluing the writing as a whole and can cause a loss of trust in its validity.
If you are thinking about writing a blog or some marketing material for your business, it’s a good idea to get someone else to write it for you since they will be able to think from a client’s perspective and match their needs to what you have to offer them. A copywriter can create your content from scratch, or if you already have a pretty good idea what you want to say, ask a proofreader to give your draft the once-over to ensure there are no errors that might lose you a customer. Poor presentation and grammar can cause your reader to judge you and your business accordingly, and they may look elsewhere to spend their money.
What I Appreciate About Being a Freelance Writer
Collaborating with authors and businesses.
Being a freelance writer, I get very excited when I see a business thrive, due in part, to the content I have helped to produce for their website or marketing materials. I love seeing clients’ web traffic grow and I get a warm feeling when they tell me they got a new enquiry because someone read a blog I’d written on their behalf!
I also love seeing new authors starting their new venture into writing, and knowing that my proofreading their manuscript has meant it has a far greater chance of being accepted by a publisher than if it had been submitted with hundreds of unseen errors and typos.
The nice thing about being a freelance writer is that inspiration can arrive from anywhere at all! There is never a lack of topics to write about – and if the topic isn’t based on fact, there’s nothing wrong with writing fiction, or journalling about your thoughts and aspirations.
As a way of earning a living it’s great because once you have a brief from the client, you do it your way, in your chosen environment – your cosy office perhaps, or in a corner of a coffee shop. It’s not a solitary pastime because it’s a collaborative affair, you are in regular contact with clients, authors, editors and, of course, readers.
Time on my hands!
Another aspect that I enjoy is the freedom to choose when I want to work. I unashamedly accept that I am not “a morning person” and I’m so grateful not to have to get up in the dark any more, for the 90 minute daily commute to the nine-to-five. My most productive time is between 8.30 am and – let’s call it late lunchtime. Having said that, sometimes I find myself wide awake at 6 am on a summer day and I jump gladly out of bed, ready to switch on my laptop and get my ideas in print. After the evening meal, I like to chill, but I’ve often got my laptop with me on the sofa if there’s a piece of writing I’ve got my teeth into and inspiration has struck, and I work late into the night. But it doesn’t feel like work, because every aspect of it is my choice.
And I don’t have to work every day – I can choose my days off, as many or as few as I want! I have grandchildren now who I adore, but I remember how it feels to have little ones around me all day long and how a break with their Nanny revitalised me. So now, I love to be the one who provides that good feeling to my daughter, and I get repaid a million-fold by the interaction and fun and special times I have with those little children, who are only little for a while after all.
In fact, the number one reason I went freelance was to enjoy those very brief years and to spend precious time with my parents as they approach their latter days. On a chirpier note, I also indulge in being “a lady who lunches” whenever I can – I don’t need a lot of notice to skip off work for an afternoon if I get the chance, as long as I’ve taken care of what matters most.
And you? What kind of content would you like to add to your website? What kind of freelancers’ appreciation week would you like to celebrate?